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2012 Draft Prep: On the defensive

Senior Fantasy Writer
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For some people, starting eight, nine or 10 players just isn't enough. Sometimes you need to start at least 15. For those people, defensive players are part of the league game plan and part of the enjoyment of Fantasy Football.

When you are asked to start individual defensive players (IDPs), the game becomes a bit more challenging. You must focus on both sides of the line of scrimmage and all players around the league, not just the customary quarterbacks, running backs, wide receivers and tight ends. Everything from draft strategies to waiver claims become complicated.

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Using IDPs isn't for everybody but it's becoming increasingly popular. Some leagues have added one or two defenders to their starting lineup requirements as a way to "test" whether or not they should be bigger parts of rosters. Other leagues have already decided that IDPs is more fun and ask owners to use eleven of them -- that's on top of a deep starting lineup.

Picking good IDPs is lot like picking good offensive players: Get guys who are around the ball. Ball-hawking defensive backs and playmakers in the front seven are always desirable Fantasy options because they're racking up stats by making tackles, registering sacks, forcing fumbles, deflecting or intercepting passes and scoring touchdowns. The only exception, and it's a weird one, are stud cornerbacks who don't get thrown at as much.

Like yardage for typical Fantasy players, tackles are the primary stat to use to judge IDPs. Most leagues that use defenders rely on both solo and assisted tackles to give points, with the other defensive stats boosting totals. You might see all tackles count for one point; passes defensed, forced fumbles and recoveries count for two; sacks and interceptions count for three; and touchdowns count for six. Obviously, because a good defender will make anywhere from 90 to 150 total tackles in a season versus a handful of other stats, tackles are king.

We're going to provide you a rank list for IDPs (good through the start of training camp), but a sharp Fantasy owner should always keep an eye on the waiver wire for rising talent. That's the key to success with defenders. Just like offensive players, defenders will come out of nowhere to post big stats and be helpful options to your team. Win the battle of uncovering waiver-wire gems, and you'll be on your way to IDP-league success.

IDP rankings
  Defensive linemen Linebackers Defensive backs
1 Jared Allen Patrick Willis Roman Harper
2 Jason Pierre-Paul James Laurinaitis Tyvon Branch
3 Kamerion Wimbley Curtis Lofton Yeremiah Bell
4 Julius Peppers D'Qwell Jackson Morgan Burnett
5 Trent Cole Derrick Johnson Eric Weddle
6 Jason Babin London Fletcher Charles Woodson
7 Cameron Wake DeMarcus Ware Mark Barron
8 Justin Smith Karlos Dansby Jairus Byrd
9 Adrian Clayborn Chad Greenway Antoine Bethea
10 Calais Campbell Sean Weatherspoon Charles Tillman
11 Charles Johnson Pat Angerer Kam Chancellor
12 Justin Tuck Stephen Tulloch Antrel Rolle
13 Jeremy Mincey Brian Cushing Bernard Pollard
14 Jabaal Sheard Sean Lee Eric Berry
15 Haloti Ngata James Harrison Quintin Mikell
16 Mario Williams Desmond Bishop Dawan Landry
17 Chris Clemons NaVorro Bowman George Wilson
18 Cliff Avril James Anderson Earl Thomas
19 Ahtyba Rubin Daryl Washington Devin McCourty
20 Elvis Dumervil Lance Briggs Dashon Goldson
21 Kyle Williams Lawrence Timmons DeAngelo Hall
22 Matt Shaughnessy DeMeco Ryans Malcolm Jenkins
23 Shea McClellin Von Miller Brandon Flowers
24 Andre Branch Brian Urlacher Tramon Williams
25 Chris Long Ray Lewis Reggie Nelson
26 Israel Idonije Donald Butler Steve Gregory
27 Osi Umenyiora David Harris Joe Haden
28 John Abraham Tamba Hali Brandon Carr
29 Kyle Vanden Bosch Akeem Dent Gerald Sensabaugh
30 J.J. Watt Daryl Smith Kenny Phillips
31 Ndamukong Suh Mason Foster Richard Marshall
32 Darnell Dockett Colin McCarthy Morris Claiborne
33 Brian Robison Paul Posluszny Jason McCourty
34 Geno Atkins Luke Kuechly Darian Stewart
35 James Hall Perry Riley T.J. Ward
36 Mark Anderson David Hawthorne Harrison Smith
37 Derrick Morgan Clay Matthews Ryan Clark
38 Trevor Scott Bobby Wagner Troy Polamalu
39 Richard Seymour Jon Beason Michael Griffin
40 Marcell Dareus LaMarr Woodley Patrick Peterson

Stay in touch with the most passionate Fantasy staff in the business by following us via Twitter @CBSFantasyFB . You can also follow Dave at @daverichard and on Facebook .

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Player News
Report: 49ers dump S Craig Dahl
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(2:56 pm ET) Former Rams standout safety Craig Dahl has been released by the 49ers, a source has told csnbayarea.com.

Dahl played in all 16 games last year for San Francisco. He contributed to 23 tackles.


Report: 49ers release LB Philip Wheeler
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(2:51 pm ET) The 49ers have released veteran linebacker Philip Wheeler, according to NFL Network. He signed a one-year contract in the offseason before missing most of training camp with a leg strain.

Wheeler did see action in 21 plays in the final preseason game Thursday and recorded a sack, but his performance was apparently not encouraging enough to save his job.


Bills release QB Matt Simms
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(2:40 pm ET) Quarterback Matt Simms was among the cuts made by the Bills on Friday as they work to pare their roster down to 53, per the Rochester Democrat & Chronicle.

Simms, who was released by the rival Jets in late May, completed 19 of 39 passes for 195 yards and one touchdown over the last two seasons.


Bills CB Leodis McKelvin out at least six games with ankle issue
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(2:12 pm ET) Bills cornerbak Leodis McKelvin has been placed on the Reserve/Non-Football Injury list after suffering a setback in his rehab from ankle surgery, per the team website. He will be lost for at least the first six games of the regular season.

McKelvin initially broke the ankle in Week 11 last year. Previous to that he had started in nine of 10 games and recorded 45 tackles and four interceptions.


Titans trade G Andy LeVitre to Falcons for sixth-rounder
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(1:34 pm ET) The Titans have announced that they have gained a sixth-round pick from Atlanta for guard Andy Levitre, per NFL.com.

LeVitre did not miss a start with Tennessee in two seasons despite nagging injuries.


Report: Bills set to cut LB Quentin Groves
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(12:44 pm ET) The Bills are releasing pass-rushing linebacker Quentin Groves, a source has told NFL Media Insider Ian Rapoport.

Groves has just 9 1/2 sacks over seven seasons, but did play in every game for Buffalo in 2014, when he contributed to 18 tackles.


Report: Steelers trade P Brad Wing to Giants
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(12:22 pm ET) The Giants have acquired punter Brad Wing from the Steelers for a future late-round draft pick, according to NFL Media Insider Ian Rapoport. Wing will replace the released Steve Weatherford.

Wing averaged 43.7 yards per punt last season for Pittsburgh.


Buccaneers dump disappointing DL Da'Quan Bowers
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(11:55 am ET) Defensive lineman Da'Quan Bowers has been released by the Buccaneers after four disappointing seasons, NFL.com has reported.

The former second-round draft pick signed a one-year deal with the team in July, but struggled in exhibition play with just one sack in four games.

Bowers, who has also dealt with injuries since joining the NFL and lost two games in 2014 for violating the NFL drug policy, has recorded only seven sacks in his career.


Report: Giants waive P Steve Weatherford
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(11:28 am ET) The Giants have released veteran punter Steve Weatherford, a source has told NFL Network.

Weatherford has been a starter for New York teams - two years with the Jets and four with the Giants - since 2009. He averaged 45.5 yards per punt last season, which is higher than his career average.


Report: 49ers release DT Darnell Dockett
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(11:05 am ET) The 49ers have released veteran defensive tackle Darnell Dockett, a league source has told Pro Football Talk.

Dockett missed all of last season with a knee injury, but had been a mainstay with Arizona before signing with San Francisco. He was deemed ready to go with no limitations in early August.

He played in every game but two for the Cardinals from 2004 to 2013 and earned Pro Bowl berths in 2007, 2009 and 2010.


 
 
 
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